The Royal College of Nursing (RCN) believes the government’s new pay offer to consultants will ‘ignite fury’ among members and make nursing strikes ‘more likely’ in the future.
After weeks of negotiations, consultants affiliated with the British Medical Association (BMA) and Hospital Consultants and Specialists Association (HCSA) have been made a government offer that, according to the BMA, ‘includes total investment of 4.95% that will be used to reform our pay scale structure’. Both organisations will now put the proposal to their members.
Victoria Atkins, health and social care secretary, said the offer, if accepted, would end the threat of more strikes and ‘modernise pay structures, directly addressing gender pay issues in the NHS’.
The government also said the deal included new ‘pay progression arrangements’ among consultants.
Professor Nicola Ranger, RCN chief nurse, said that nursing staff would be ‘appalled by this announcement and where it leaves them’.
She added: ‘Nursing staff work closely with consultants, and we too have campaigned for years to have quicker progression through the pay scale.
‘This would help recognise nurses’ safety-critical and lifesaving skills, and yet many spend most of their career stuck on the same NHS pay band.’
In May, after months of industrial action, it was announced that the government’s pay offer for NHS staff in England would be implemented following acceptance by the majority of unions, despite a vote by the RCN to reject it.
The deal saw nurses given a one-off payment between £1,655 and £3,789 for 2022/23 and a 5% consolidated (permanent) pay increase for 2023/24.
The RCN has continued its campaign for better pay and in June, the union failed to secure a new mandate for further NHS nurse strikes in England after the turnout for the ballot fell short of the 50% statutory minimum.
‘It’s galling that almost 12 months since nursing staff took the unprecedented decision to strike, our pay dispute remains unresolved, and the government continues to undervalue our profession,’ said Professor Ranger.
‘Today’s news will ignite our members’ fury further, making nursing strikes more likely in the future,’ she added.